Friday, November 13, 2009

Birthday Suits: Hamlets & Hydes

Today's Cinematic Birthdays 11/13
1312 Edward III (of Windsor), not the gay one who gets more cinematic treatment (including Derek Jarman's fascinating take), but his son. This is the one Shakespeare wrote a play about and the one who Mel Gibson implied to be the bastard son of Braveheart William Wallace, thereby giving the finger to history unless Wallace's sperm could survive years past his death. That Gibson's sperm could magically endure beyond the grave is far more likely. He already has eight children.
1833 Edwin Thomas Booth, famous influential thespian and the 19th century's most prominent Hamlet. He's been portrayed onscreen and stage by famous thespians like Richard Burton and Frank Langella, usually in stories connected to his estranged brother's assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Will someone play him in the Spielberg helmed Lincoln film?

Oskar, Steve and Whoopi

1897 Gertrude Omstead, one of many silent film actresses who moved on once sound hit the movies.
1922 Oskar Werner, the most famous stage Hamlet of the 50s? If you don't count 40s holdover Sir Laurence Olivier. Werner had an erratic relationship with Hollywood and a difficult relationship with François Truffaut. Today he's best remembered for his 60s films including Ship of Fools (Oscar nomination) and Jules and Jim (as Jules)
1938 Jean Seberg "New York Herald Tribune. New York Herald Tribune"
1947 Joe Mantegna for some reason when I think of him I always think of watching him try to keep up with Mia Farrow's personality shifts in Alice (1990)
1955 Whoopi Goldberg aside from cameos or voice performance, she basically dumped the movies at the turn of the millenium. Do you miss her or are you fine with The View?
1967 Steve Zahn MVP of many a supporting movie cast. Recently had quite wonderful chemistry with Amy Adams in Sunshine Cleaning. They should work together again.
1969 Gerard Butler ...
1981 Shawn Yue the young version of Tony Leung Chiu Wai in those Infernal Affairs movies (that inspired The Departed). Hey, if this 28 year old actor can grow up to be half (nay, a third) as awesome as Tony Leung Chiu Wai we should all be very very grateful.

Finally, a big cinematic thank you to Robert Louis Stevenson on his 159th anniversary. If he'd only ever written The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr Hyde the cinema would owe him a great debt. It's impossible to even measure its influence, particularly on conflicted movie monsters and superheroes. The novella was adapted five whole times before sound even hit the movies. The first sound adaptation won Fredric March the Oscar as the famous doctor at war with his internal demon. He's one of only a handful of actors who've won the Oscar for a horror role. Actors who've portrayed the good/evil doctor since include everyone from John Malkovich to Udo Kier to Kirk Douglas to Leonard Nimoy. It's been awhile since Hollywood has tackled the story in a big budget way. The story has been mostly relegated to dvd or telefilms since Mary Reilly (starring John Malkovich and Julia Roberts) flopped in the mid90s. If The Wolf Man is a success next year I suspect a lot of the horror classics might see new prestige treatments onscreen.

Stevenson also wrote Treasure Island and Black Arrow which have also been adapted multiple times. Have you read any of these classics or just absorbed them through pop culture?


mrripley said...

I missw hoop from 85-87 and 92-93 periods.

Andrew K. said...

I actually do miss Whoopi acting. As far as black actresses go, I think she is the most talented [except for maybe, Cicely Tyson]. She doesn't always choose wisely, but she's great when she does.

By the way, did you see the clip of A Call from Vatican with Penelope on Jay Leno last night? I can't remember the last time 25 seconds got me so hot and bothered before :)

Alex Constantin said...

I watch The View constantly. It's better to see her there than in shitty roles doing a debatable job!

One must admit that she has lost a lot of the drive and maybe even talent. But I think she's fine with not doing anything too demanding

Alex Constantin said...

the PENELOPE CRUZ clip is on youtube.

MrW said...

Me again. (I hope these additions of mine aren't bothering you, I just like to round your lists off a bit.)

My additions would be:
Hermione Baddeley (*1906), Oscar record holder (shortest performance ever nominated for an Academy Award).
Jack Elam (*1920), beloved character actor.
Madeleine Sherwood (*1922), stage, film and TV actress.
Garry Marshall (*1934), director of Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway movies.
Frances Conroy (*1953), actress.
Chris Noth (*1954), Carrie Bradshaw's Mr. Big.

maurizio said...

C for A Single Man ?

What happened ?

Andrea said...

weird, i was wikipeding hamlet last night (and edwin booth). im actually off to do a hamlet paper now, so good timing.

Jake D said...

Love the Gerard Butler non-comment.

Can't believe he's forty though.

Anonymous said...

God I love Whoopi. Her performance in Ghost and The Color Purple are utterly brilliant.

And who doesn't love Sister Act?

lindar said...

Gerard Butler...yes,indeed. Just saying.